Four very different philanthropists, all under 30, focusing on four different causes using four different ways to make a difference. And yet, it was their commonalities that were the most inspiring: The impact they made, the lessons they learned, common themes of love, tolerance, respect and generosity.
And their presentations built on each other. Bilaal started, setting the stage and reminding us that young people aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, but today. Hugh and Barbara further built on that foundation, showing us all just how much young people can truly do. And finally there was Emmanuel, whom I mentioned in an earlier post. He moved from an account of his life as a boy soldier, to his work as an activist for peace and philanthropy, to his singing of two very lively hip-hop songs. He demonstrated just how powerful our work can be—and that what we do affects people everyday, sometimes in extraordinary ways.
That’s the story of our profession as well—each generation of fundraisers building on the previous one, taking lessons learned to expand our horizons even further. Each generation different from the next, working on very different causes in some cases, and using technology and methods that we can’t even imagine right now. But it’s our commonalities that unite us: dedication to the highest ethical standards with a goal of creating impact to change the world.
But the cycle doesn’t occur by itself. We have to help prepare the next generation—the one we saw in action in San Diego—and the generation after that. As different as they’ll be from us, we have to instill in them those commonalities. And then let them run with the rest—take what we’ve established, make it their own, and achieve new milestones that are years beyond us right now.